Ohio-based photographer Erika Brooke typically spends her time photographing newlyweds and couples-to-be, running a thriving wedding photography business that boasts over 33,000 followers on social media.
For World Down Syndrome Day on March 21st, though, she shared a story of a different kind of couple that she got a chance to photograph—and they may very well touch your heart more than any of the other duos she’s gotten a chance to capture with her lens!
Brooke wrote an op-ed for the positivity-based website “Love What Matters,” explaining that she found herself overwhelmed with love when she got a chance to photograph a 7-year-old with Down syndrome named Joey.
Joey refused to have his photos taken for the Down Syndrome Association calendar without his sweet girlfriend, Ellie. I had no objections. ❤️ #perfectlyflawedcouples
“Chivalry isn’t dead and little Joey is walking proof. Every year I get the honor to photograph the annual calendar for the Down Syndrome Association and this year, ‘Mr. December’ suggested that his girlfriend, Ellie, be included in his photo shoot. Brace yourself for the cutest photos you’ve probably ever seen,” she wrote.
She went on to explain that both Joey and Ellie, the youngest siblings in their respective families, showed a sense of pure love and joy that’s rarely seen nowadays. The pair did everything from help one another overcome fear and nerves to encourage smiles during the photo shoot, leaving their photographer in absolute awe of the way they “had it all figured out.”
The relationship started to blossom when Joey and Ellie were infants. Neither set of parents knew ahead of time about their respective child’s diagnosis, but not long after they were born, they had mutual friends encourage them to let the pair bond early on.
They’ve been able to grow up and hit milestones together, learning how to navigate a world that can sometimes be a bit unforgiving with nothing but kindness and joy. Their relationship has helped their families, too; the older siblings of both Joey and Ellie now know how to educate their friends on acceptance and understanding of those different from them.
“Their struggles are real, and we know there is a constant need to educate the world around us about kindness and respect for those that are different. Joey has three older sisters, and Ellie has two older sisters. Their sisters are already educating their friends and classmates about Down syndrome and how Joey and Ellie are just like them. In exchange, Joey and Ellie have taught their siblings about compassion, kindness and accepting all kinds of differently-abled people,” said Joey’s mom.
The pair, she explained, only see the best in people—which she believes makes them “specially-abled,” not dis-abled.
At just 7 years old, it’s clear that the duo still have plenty of growing up left to do. But the way they see the world makes it even more clear that they already get the most important things in the world—and have a unique shared ability to make everyone around them better through their interactions! That kind of positivity can clearly change the world.
You may also want to watch this video
Woman With Down Syndrome Opens Her Own Bakery After Many Job Rejections